Did You Have A Mentor In Your Life?

A few weeks ago, Girls Write Now held its first-ever annual benefit and awards.  It was a perfect evening--as authentic, inspirational and moving as the organization, and worthy of the girls and the wonderful professional women writers who serve as their mentors (like Alice Canick, pictured with her mentee, Paldon Dolma, here).  As the board chair, I was asked to say a few words.  But how could I convey the critical importance of this organization to the people in the room in just a few words?  I decided to do it by asking two questions.  First,  "Who in this room has had a mentor who changed his or her life?"  There was a show of hands, but by no means the majority of the attendees had been so lucky.  Second I asked, "Who in this room wishes she had?"  The show of hands, then, was unanimous.

I have been lucky to have several mentors who have changed my life, but the one who was probably the most significant, the one who really created a fork in my path through life and sent me down the road less traveled as a writer, in particular, was the late Diane Middlebrook.  I have written about Diane here before, but thinking of her again in the context of Girls Write Now made me want to ask a similar question of She Writers.  

Did you (or do you) have a mentor who changed your life?  Or do you still wish you did?  

One of Diane's most lasting legacies to me was the salon of women writers we founded together in London, which still exists (and met recently, in fact) in London and in New York City, too.  I host it with Nancy K.  Miller, who Diane introduced me to ten years ago now, and who I regard as another mentor as well as a dear friend.  Here at She Writes, I try to pay their tremendous generosity and guidance forward in some little way every single day.  Because when a girl, or a woman, sets out to write, it can make a tremendous difference to have somebody she respects say to her, "Yes!  You ARE a writer, and don't let anybody tell you differently!"  It isn't an easy thing to believe about yourself, when you are just starting out, whether you are thirteen or eighty-five.

So please, take a minute to pay tribute to the mentors in your life by commenting here -- and, if you are feeling really inspired, take a minute to stop by a fellow She Writers website or blog and say, "Yes!" to her today, too.

PS: If you live in New York City and would like to become a mentor for Girls Write Now, the application deadline has just been extended to June 15th -- you can get all the information here!) 

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Comment by Evalyn Lee on July 12, 2013 at 10:51pm
Hi Kamy: I'd just like to say thank you to She writes which has served as a mentoring finding platform for me, from the posts to the seminars. Finding and then getting to work with Brooke Warner been such a gift. Does She Writes have an equivalent young writer's mentoring program in London? Would love to get involved if it does. Thanks again for all you do.
Comment by Rebecca Forster on June 4, 2013 at 12:22pm

Kamy,  I wish I was in NY. I'm in Los Angeles. I have worked with an amazing group called The Young Writers Conference. We don't mentor one on one. Up to 30 authors have gone into schools to conduct workshops for middle grade kids. The ladies who run it are incredible. I think it's wonderful to reach out to kids. Congrats on the program.

Comment by Kamy Wicoff on June 4, 2013 at 12:17pm

Thanks so much for sharing, Marilyn, Rebecca and Julie.  I am sorry it took me awhile to respond!  I love it that you were so inspired by your mentor, Marilyn, that you are now writing about her.  And Rebecca, are you in New York?  You would be such a great mentor for Girls Write Now!

Comment by Marilyn Celeste Morris on May 23, 2013 at 1:22pm

I had a mentor years ago, but she made such an impact on my life, I am now writing about our teacher/student relationship as a novel. Her name is Grace Nies Fletcher. She taught Creative Writing in Continuing Education at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth TX when she was 75 and I was 50. A proper Bostonian and a rebellious native Texan formed a strange alliance. We visited each other even as the class ended, and at one point, I began signing her into the hospital as "her daughter." She died at 92. Flash forward to this year. I began having thoughts of her while I was writing my latest historical adventure. The guide in the part of the book where they were exploring the Himalayas was named -- hold it -- Fletcher. She had shared with me that she went to the Himalayas to interview the Dali Lama. So this memory came out in my work in progress, Grace Notes. I should also add at one point she entrusted me with flying to San Francisco with her priceless painting of Buddha to restore it by an art historian. Not only did she teach me how to write better, she taught me about life. When my husband and I divorced, she wrote me a note saying, "You are a brave girl." Her critiques were delivered like a sharp saber, and many in the class dropped out. She taught me how to accept criticism, good, bad or indifferent.

So, yes, I had a mentor. I hope I do her memory justice when I have my publisher release it.

Comment by Rebecca Forster on May 23, 2013 at 12:37pm

I was never lucky enough to have a mentor and for that reason I like to mentor when I can. When I was just starting out as an author, I often wished there was someone who would answer a pivotal question for me. The one thing I just couldn't figure out. I hope, every once in while, I'm able to provide that one piece of information someone is looking for. However, I did have a cheerleader. She always listened to me, helped me research, read every word I wrote. She wasn't a mentor in the traditional sense but I don't think I would have kept going without her. Maybe that's what a mentor is in the end - the person who just believes in you.

Comment by Julie Luek on May 23, 2013 at 10:16am

I have several online friends who have really reached out and offered me opportunities and been very affirming. I appreciate them very much! So glad you found someone special. 


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